How to Dive Into Writing.
by Saira Ahmad
You often hear writers say that they have always known writing is what they wanted to do, that
it's what they’ve been doing for as long as they can remember. If, like me, you aren’t one of
those people who “just always knew”, you may have spent your time simply admiring the work
of other writers, possibly even wondering how amazing it would be if you could write anything
remotely like the authors of your favourite books. Maybe you spent days imagining how being a
writer would be a dream but you let a voice inside your head tell you that you could never be
any good at it, that it’s silly to even consider it let alone try, and so you put that dream aside and
consider it nothing more than a fantasy.
It took a lot of courage to accept and voice that desire to write, not only to others but to myself.
As a child I saw fiction as magic and authors as the sorcerer. To be able to create something
even close to the books I loved seemed completely unfathomable. I was a late bloomer when it
came to reading so it wasn’t till my tweens that I started to really read and love stories and I
never considered writing stories to be a possibility, though I think i’ve been secretly harboring a
longing to write since then. I just couldn’t admit it to myself.
For one I never saw authors like me and thus assumed it was a career reserved for white men
and few women. I didn’t believe my voice was one that the world wanted to hear. On top of that I
always had that often crippling self doubt which seems to be familiar to us all as writers. I looked
at the works of my favourite authors, not realising they had been tirelessly cut and polished; all I
saw was perfection, and an insurmountable distance between myself as a reader and the act of
So you want to do this, you want to write. You want your voice heard, you want to build worlds
and tell stories. You want to do it but maybe you don’t know where to start or if it’s even right for
you. I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me in beginning my writing journey.
Take the leap, make that decision
The biggest and most important step you need to take is making the decision to write. If you’ve
long been harboring a desire to write then now is the time to take the leap and try it, you have
nothing to lose! Even if one day you decide writing isn’t for you, trust me when I say that the
time you invested in writing will have helped you grow in some way or form and will never be
wasted. Don’t listen to the voice that says you can’t do it, that you’re not smart enough, or young
enough or creative enough. As Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way “No matter what your
age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too
late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.” So just start.
Find your why
There are so many reasons one might decide to be a writer. You might want your voice to be
heard or shed light on a subject close to your heart. You might want to make people laugh, or
cry, to write the book that will someday become someone’s favourite.
Think about all the reasons you want to take this path and write them down. This is a helpful
exercise not only when considering whether you really want to write but can also be a powerful
reminder and source of inspiration during those times where writing is not so easy! It’s a
journey, sometimes a challenging and tumultuous one but if you know where you’re going and
why, it makes that journey a lot smoother and even gloriously fun at times!
Before you throw yourself in the deep end, try dipping your toes in the water. Although everyone
is different, if your goal is to write a book straight off the bat, you could become overwhelmed
fast. If you need to take it slow that’s ok! You can start out by using writing prompts or writing
short stories. Experiment and have fun! While doing this you might even land on something that
gives you an idea for a full length book!
Take it at your own pace
Know that while we may be the same in our love for stories and writing them, we are all different
kinds of writers. We have different methods and processes. We all have different timelines,
there’s no right or wrong way, no set standard for how you must work. Some people may take 5
months to finish a draft and some may take 5 years. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the
space to find your own way and what works for you.
Write, and write regularly. There may be times when you find yourself paralysed by the blank
screen or empty page, by fear and doubt and the feeling that you have no idea what you’re
doing. On those days, I find it most important to push through and write anyway. It doesn’t
matter what it is, just write. Unload your thoughts, write a list, write the same sentence over and
over if you need to until something happens and even if you don’t produce anything you
consider useful, you know you sat down and did the work and you’ll find if you keep doing that, it
gets a little easier the next time.
Writing is a solitary act but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Traditionally writers would often find a
local writers group, for a sense of community as well as some accountability and feedback. But
with the busy lifestyles many of us lead and now covid that’s not always possible. When I
discovered I could find a wonderful online community of writers I was pleasantly surprised.
Finding an online community of writers who inspire me daily has been invaluable. Writing is a
learning curve, but having a community of like minded people who understand everything you’re
going through, and offer friendship and accountability can make a world of difference.
You don’t have to be perfect
Know that throughout this journey, imposter syndrome will come at you, doubt and negative
voices will come at you but the only way to push them aside is to keep writing. If you take one
thing away from reading let it be this; you are capable of anything you put your mind to! It
doesn’t matter if there are endless droughts, where the ideas and the words just don’t come. It
doesn’t matter if you can’t find the time to write everyday. It doesn’t even matter if what you
write is terrible. We have to start somewhere, and as writers we have the luxury of being able to
create messy, flawed pieces of work and go back and hack away at it and embellish it till it
becomes something we can be proud of putting out into the world.
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